Testimony on LD 1109 “Resolve, To Target Job Creation in the Agricultural Sector To Improve the Stability and Economic Strength of Rural Maine”

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine

in favor of LD 1109,

Resolve, To Target Job Creation in the Agricultural Sector To Improve the Stability and Economic Strength of Rural Maine

May 3, 2011


Senator Sherman, Representative Edgecomb and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry. My name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. As many of you know from our previous interactions with the committee, GrowSmart Maine is a statewide non-profit membership-based organization working to grow Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character, and enhance our state's quality places. I regret that previously scheduled commitments prevent me or other GrowSmart Maine representatives from presenting this testimony at today’s Public Hearing.

As a part of our commitment to strengthening Maine’s economy, GrowSmart Maine is particularly enthusiastic about well grounded, thoughtful and creative proposals which seek to grow the economy in a sustainable manner while at the same time preserving our state’s unique character and quality of place. We believe this bill fits that description. Having been an integral part of a family farm for nearly two decades, and been involved in several farmers’ markets, an agricultural marketing cooperative and numerous other farmer-led efforts, I want to add my perspective in support of this proposal.

Farming is not quaint, and it is not easy. The work is physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding. The challenges include the need for solid business planning and financial strategies, access to capital and to markets and inputs, and the limited opportunities for networking, support, and education. The cumulative effect can at times seem to far outweigh the benefits of a career in farming, and so it is well worth the effort to explore opportunities and solutions to the barriers Maine farmers face. When farmers are profitable, the communities in which they are located benefit as well. Local vendors, customers, neighbors, and workers all experience a better quality of life, and so I encourage this committee to work with this bill to put together the right people to identify innovative solutions, to strengthen rural Maine.

Thank you for the opportunity to present these remarks. Please contact me with any questions regarding GrowSmart Maine’s support for LD 1109.